Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Double dog dare the crazy people

Drum: Make My Day, GOP

Jonah Goldberg diagnoses the Democratic Party's woes following their early legislative successes:

Democrats steamrolled the most ambitiously liberal agenda in at least a generation. Yet liberals are miserable. Their lamentations over what they see as President Obama's lack of audacity punctuate the din, like ululating matrons at an Arab politician's funeral. This misplaced griping stems not from Obama's failure to "think big" but from a misreading of the political climate: Liberals thought they'd be popular.

Fair enough. A little florid for my taste, but then, I'm not a conservative. But it turns out that Goldberg has issues with his side too:

For a year or so, Republicans have been the so-called party of no. Contrary to the expectations of its critics, that tactic has been good for the GOP. It seems that the "tea parties," America's natural antibodies to Obamaism, have provided some vital stem cell therapy, helping to regrow the Republican spine.

But that spine is only valuable if you use it for something....Now is the time for the GOP to call Obama's bluff and offer a real choice. My personal preference would be for the leadership to embrace Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's "road map," a sweeping, bold and humane assault on the welfare state and our debt crisis. Doing so might come at the cost of trimming the GOP's victory margins in November, but it would provide Republicans with a real mandate to be something more than "not-Obama."

I swear, I would pay cash money if the Republican leadership would promise to actually do this. Goldberg thinks that liberals aren't popular? That's peanuts. If Republicans made a serious run at passing Ryan's road map the party would end up just slightly more popular than the Taliban. I think there would literally not be a single demographic or interest group in the entire country still supporting them. Even the tea partiers would start pretending to be Democrats. Hell, they'd probably take up the cause of repealing the 22nd amendment and allowing Obama to be elected president for life.

Of course, it's fine for columnists and pundits to say this kind of stuff. Just trying to move the needle, after all. But I sure wish party leaders would take them up on it once in a while. Democrats, for all their faults, generally do approximately what they say they're going to do and then either pay the price or reap the benefits. Republicans don't. They parachute into Tea Party gatherings and spout stemwinders about taking an axe to government spending, but when they get back to Washington they do just the opposite — all while figuring out ever newer and more inventive ways of providing tax breaks to favored industries. If they ever actually got serious about slashing all that government spending they claim they're so dedicated to slashing, the party of Lincoln would end up on the ash heap of history.

So I dare them. I double dog dare them. Let's hear about how you're going to cut federal spending by a trillion dollars over the next five years and by a third over the next 50. Details, people. Let's hear 'em. Make my day.

I'm beginning to better understand why, after a scandal-plagued tenure, HP fired its beleaguered CEO, Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina, who decided to parlay her professional failures into becoming the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California, talked to a the CBS affiliate in San Francisco this week about her approach to tax cuts.

"Let me propose something that may seem crazy to you: you don't need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves, if they are targeted, because they create jobs."

This is, in most respects, even more ridiculous than Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) assertion that shouldn't try to pay for tax cuts. For the Senate Minority Whip, tax cuts are always good, even if they increase the deficit, because they shrink government. For the deeply confused Carly Fiorina, the policy is more fantastical -- paying for tax cuts is unnecessary because once taxes are cut, more money simply materializes, magically, in the federal treasury. The deficit simply won't go up, she argues, no matter how much taxes are cut.

Thirty years ago, this raving stupidity had a name: "voodoo economics." More recently, it's come to be known as belief in the "Tax Fairy."

Regardless of the name, the notion that tax cuts necessarily pay for themselves is one of the more pernicious lies in the far-right arsenal. It's both gibberish and right-wing propaganda, but it's nevertheless repeated from time to time.

It shouldn't be -- the concept has been debunked repeatedly by those who care about reality. How wrong is the argument? The Bush/Cheney Office of Management and Budget and the Bush/Cheney Council of Economic Advisers rejected the notion that tax cuts can pay for themselves out of hand. Fiorina, in other words, is promising to be even more fiscally irresponsible than the bunch that added $5 trillion to our national debt in eight years.

Even a fired CEO should be able to understand the reality here. The single biggest cause of the current deficit is Bush's tax cuts. They didn't "pay for themselves"; they put us in a devastating hole.

In the same interview, by the way, Carly Fiorina said the Senate "doesn't have enough people who understand how the economy works." She didn't appear to be kidding, but coming from her, it was laughable.

Of all the misguided critics of last year's Recovery Act, arguably none has been quite as aggressive as House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va). As it turns out, of those same critics, arguably none has been exposed as being a bigger hypocrite than Cantor, either.

Today, for example, the frequently-confused Virginian will host yet another job fair made possible by the Recovery Act that Cantor claims to hate. It's the third time the Minority Whip has pulled this identical stunt, proving that he's either unaware of the hypocrisy or just too shameless to care. Lee Fang explained:

According to a ThinkProgress review of contracts from the Recovery.gov website, employers at the Cantor job fair [today] have received approximately $52,716,129 from the stimulus.

While Cantor has tried to score political points slamming the stimulus as an utter failure, he has relied on it as a crutch to bring both private and public sector jobs to his district.

Remember, Cantor has pulled the exact same stunt before -- hosting a jobs fair with positions made possible, at least in part, by the same stimulus Cantor insists was a mistake.

Indeed, there's a clear pattern here. In April 2009, Cantor heralded a high-speed rail project in his district, made possible by the stimulus package. Just two months prior, Cantor fought tooth and nail to prevent that project from existing, and specifically mocked government funding on high-speed rail.

If Cantor were the only hypocrite in his caucus, the larger phenomenon wouldn't be nearly as offensive. But at last count, 128 House Republicans -- nearly three-quarters of the total -- have tried to claim credit for creating jobs through a Recovery Act that they fought to kill, and continue to disparage.

While GOP leaders in Congress no doubt hope you'll forget, dozens of congressional Republicans have admitted, in writing, that they believe the stimulus and federal spending is good for the economy and an effective way to create jobs.

If these Republicans were willing to apologize for the mistake -- or better yet, thank President Obama and congressional Democrats -- I'm sure the majority would be gracious about the whole thing.

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